Europe, Interviews

Parveen Khan – Senior Test Engineer at Square Marble Technology

I feel proud being a woman in tech. It has helped to break the common misconception that women are good only for doing certain kinds of jobs.

Parveen Khan is a senior test engineer at square marble technology. Being a quality advocate she believes delivering high quality products is everyone’s responsibility. She loves collaborating with teams and optimizing processes, tools and methodologies to enable the creation of high quality products. She is also an international speaker sharing her stories and experiences in testing to inspire other people around the globe. In her spare time, she plays the role of wonder woman for her two lovely kids.

In a Nutshell: Tell us a bit about your job and what role technology plays in it?

I’m a Senior Test Engineer at Square Marble Technology based in London working on a financial service product. The core of the product involves sending automated invoices and reminders. I find the risks in the product and play a role of quality advocate working closely with Developers, Architects, UI/UX designers, Product Owners/Project Managers. Over the past six years, I have worked across several domains and software products. I might not code on a day to day basis but my work, decisions and strategy revolves around the technology used to build the product and deliver it to our customers. The product is Mia which helps automate repetitive, complex processes, reduce manual effort, and significantly improve your visibility on accounts. The technology used is React, .Net, SQL, Terraform, Kubernetes, Docker, Kafka and Azure.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

One of the biggest learnings for me has been to never be afraid to make mistakes and take risks. These are the things that will help you grow.

I did not start my career thinking I wanted to be a Test Engineer. In fact, I didn’t really know about it until a few years into my career. I studied bachelor’s and master’s in computer science as I love technology. Even during my school years I took various technical courses as I had a passion to learn how the systems we use are developed and work.

After I graduated, I was looking for programming jobs that involved  C++ or Java as I had developed an interest in them during my master’s program. In my community, women getting into tech jobs weren’t encouraged, as it was not a norm for hijabi women. Despite not getting support to pursue my passion, I continued to apply for jobs. After several months of searching, I finally accepted a job to become a lecturer at a university teaching C, C++ and Java courses to graduates and master’s students.

My big break came in 2014, when I joined a startup as a Test Analyst. I did not know there was a field called Software Testing unit then. After a 4-year sabbatical and raising my two kids full-time, I was excited and ready to start this new journey. To be frank, it was quite intimidating and overwhelming at first, but the more I learned about testing I became more excited about the field. It was both challenging and a great learning experience at the same time. I’m a strong believer in the viewpoint that we won’t grow until there’s something that challenges and pushes us out of our comfort zone.

Fast-forwarding to 2020, I work with teams wearing different hats – testing the product/application, being the user’s voice, introducing new processes, researching new tools and technologies that might help team, attending conferences to learn new and different ways how people work and solve their challenges and sharing my learning experiences by speaking and writing. The past six years has been a roller coaster ride working at four companies and across various domains.  I am super lucky that I got a mentor who helped me find my voice and she’s Angie Jones. I am also fortunate that I am part of a great community where I learn and grow from.

One of the biggest learnings for me has been to never be afraid to make mistakes and take risks. These are the things that will help you grow.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

This pandemic has uncovered one of the greatest transformations in technology not only for me but for millions of other people around the world. It has proved that no matter what part of the world you live in, you can still work and collaborate remotely as technology has empowered us. There has also been a massive shift in how the conferences or meetups have been organised during this lockdown situation.

Now everything has transformed into virtual events and has proved to us that learning never stops, and physical location is not more a limitation.

In terms of my career, if I look back at how technology has advanced since I started my first role as a tester to where I am now, there is a huge difference. Now, everything has moved to the cloud using services AWS or Azure. Even, the way we look at the infrastructure has radically changed. New tools and services have come up in the recent years that have made things more seamless and easier to maintain.

My role has transformed into not just testing the application via user interface to now where I access and use the same tools as the developers. As technology transforms, so does our role.

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

We have come a long way in terms of women empowerment but I feel there is still a lot of work to be done in this regard. For example, I have always been the only hijabi woman in all the teams and companies I have worked with till now. This shows that there is still a huge need to have more women from all the diverse backgrounds in tech.

More the diversity better the creative solutions teams can come up with.

That being said, I feel proud being a woman in tech. It has helped to break the common misconception that women are good only for doing certain kinds of jobs.

We always hear there are not enough women working in Tech. What needs to happen to change that, which steps should be done to achieve gender equality in tech?

Companies should hire more women and be more supportive to their growth. They should also establish a transparent process where employees irrespective of their gender get equal opportunities for career growth, salary increase, and other incentives.

I believe change should happen right from the early stages of one’s education. Schools should teach kids technology is for everyone irrespective of gender, age, race and culture. They should also be given more information about career opportunities in tech. They should be taught that men and women are equally capable of doing any kind of job, and it starts with educating and believing in themselves.

They need to see it to believe that they belong in tech. One of the reason why I speak at conferences and share my experiences so women like me can feel more comfortable and believe that we too belong in tech.

Companies should hire more women and be more supportive to their growth. They should also establish a transparent process where employees irrespective of their gender get equal opportunities for career growth, salary increase, and other incentives.

This I can say from my personal experience where I have been asked questions related to how many kids I have to decide how productive and available I would be. To me, this itself is a failure in the company’s recruitment process. Make the hiring process and the career growth ladder in companies more inclusive.

How different would our world be if more women worked in STEM?

Very different for sure. There should be more opportunities for women from all diverse backgrounds and age groups. Having more women in tech would lead to positive impacts like building inclusive, innovative and diverse products.

Which was the best decision in your career?

My mentor helped me find my voice.

One of the best decisions I made in my career is enrolling in TechVoices (Formerly speakeasy). I had sent in my request to find a mentor who could help me grow. I had to pick from a list of mentors and I picked one of them as Angie Jones was not part of that list but I mentioned how inspired and influenced I am by Angie Jones and would have been great to have her as my mentor. That simple request or should I say that I expressed myself and tried it, that I got Angie Jones as my mentor. Since I worked with her, I have been opened to newer opportunities, ideas, people, and technologies. In simple words I would sum it up that she helped me find my voice.

What advice would you give to women who want a tech career?

Always believe in yourself and find your passion. When you start believing you start growing.

Always believe in yourself and find your passion. When you start believing you start growing. And most importantly don’t change your identity to fit in, be yourself and make sure that our voices are heard.

Find a mentor and there’s so much help out there in the community where you can learn, share and grow. Share your story as that might help or inspire others.

Parveen Khan is a senior test engineer at square marble technology. Being a quality advocate she believes delivering high quality products is everyone’s responsibility. She loves collaborating with teams and optimizing processes, tools and methodologies to enable the creation of high quality products. She is also an international speaker sharing her stories and experiences in testing to inspire other people around the globe. In her spare time, she plays the role of wonder woman for her two lovely kids.

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